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Americans want an end to forever wars. But that's not what Trump offers

18.10.2019 2:00

The president’s Syria withdrawal should be a warning to those too easily seduced by his erratic opposition to US foreign involvement‘Trump, of course, did not campaign as a principled anti-interventionist or anti-imperialist but as an amoral dealmaker, willing to pull the US out of entanglements deemed too costly or arrangements with allies deemed ungrateful.’ Photograph: Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty ImagesThe American people are tired of war. After 18 years of continuous conflict – so long that fathers and sons have fought in the same war – fatigue and frustration with the exercise of US military force abroad pervade our political culture. This is not new. Nominally anti-war candidates have won the past three presidential elections. Indeed, one of the many perverse features of the 2016 campaign was that the strongest denunciation of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq came not from the Democrat on the debate stage but from Donald Trump. So seemingly indifferent to the painful toll of endless war was Hillary Clinton’s campaign that it could very well have cost her the election.Trump, of course, did not campaign as a principled anti-interventionist or anti-imperialist but as an amoral dealmaker, willing to pull the US out of entanglements deemed too costly or arrangements with allies deemed ungrateful. Yet he has governed, at least for the bulk of his term, much more like a conventional Republican than the flouter of the bipartisan foreign policy consensus he sometimes postured to be. Hawkish generals, neocons and hardcore Islamophobes have largely occupied the key policy-making positions in his administration. Instead of “ending endless wars”, as he has periodically pledged to do, Trump has mostly done the opposite: vetoing in April a resolution that would have ended US military involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen; expanding US military presence in Saudi Arabia; and repeatedly risking armed conflict with Iran.It is a sad irony that Trump’s recent catastrophic decision to withdraw US troops from north-eastern Syria and approve Turkey’s invasion may be the closest his administration has come to substantially contravening the foreign policy establishment’s dictates and actually reducing US military presence abroad. The withdrawal from Syria is the exact opposite of principled anti-interventionism: incoherent, inconsistent and likely to imperil already vulnerable progressive and democratic forces. As Meredith Tax writes, it is a colossal betrayal of the Kurds, many of whom have fought and died alongside US troops trying to expel the Islamic State from their territory, and a terrible blow to the revolutionary experiment in Rojava, which has offered the international left a glimpse of a new political paradigm in practice.An unstrategic, chaotic move that has already taken innocent people’s lives, Trump’s Syria withdrawal should be a warning to those too easily seduced by the president’s erratic opposition to US foreign involvement – an orientation grounded in the mercenary logic of the protection racket, not respect for international law or a commitment to human rights. It is crucial not to confuse the president’s cruel calculus with a genuine commitment to ending protracted wars, regardless of what he might tweet.> It is crucial not to confuse the president’s cruel calculus with a genuine commitment to ending protracted wars, regardless of what he might tweetTrump’s Syria withdrawal should also serve as a reminder to liberals and leftists of the urgent need to articulate a strong alternative to the policies of imperial maintenance – a swollen defense budget, drone strikes and targeted assassinations – advocated by Democrats and Republicans alike as well as to the cruel, cynical foreign policy of Trump.This is a moral imperative: not only in light of US imperial maintenance’s direct human cost, felt most acutely by those whose countries and societies have been torn apart by US invasion or intervention, but also in light of what could be accomplished domestically by taking the substantial resources currently used to end lives abroad and reallocating them to improve and save lives at home through reinvestments in the country’s fraying social safety net.And, in the midst of a presidential election campaign, it is a political imperative. Trump’s re-election campaign may be mired in scandal and seemingly disorganized, but there is no doubt that Trump and his operatives understand the electoral benefits of an anti-interventionist posture; it worked for them before, and it could work for them again. The Syrian withdrawal should be understood with this in mind, as should Trump’s proposed drawdown of US troops from Afghanistan. After all, the places where it matters that loved ones have returned from active duty are places where the Democratic nominee will need to win if Trump is to be defeated.They will fail to do so if the Democratic foreign policy position is characterized by kneejerk defensiveness about the Obama administration’s foreign policy legacy (eg Joe Biden) or the pabulum of “American leadership” (eg Pete Buttigieg) that, in practice, means sending more US soldiers, and civilians, in countries around the world, to their deaths.Instead, the Democrats must put forward a vision of US foreign policy that pairs a principled opposition to endless wars with a commitment to begin a responsible, comprehensive pullback of US military presence abroad. Fears of a possible backlash to this are probably overstated. In ways not always intelligible as such, a war-weary people demands a respite. * Joshua Leifer is an associate editor at Dissent

Go Inside Miranda Kerr's $2.15 Million Malibu Cottage

17.10.2019 14:48

Miranda Kerr is giving her fans an inside look at her beautiful Malibu home. The supermodel, who purchased the 1,700-square-foot cottage for $2.15 million when she moved to the Los...


Turkey, U.S. Agree on Cease-Fire to End Feud: Syria Update

17.10.2019 14:00

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said he reached an agreement with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on a 120 hour cease-fire in Turkey’s military operation in Syria, allowing Kurdish militants to leave parts of the northeast.Once Kurdish forces complete their evacuation, Turkey’s cross-border operation in Syria will come to a complete end, Pence said on— Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) October 17, 2019 President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops and stand aside when Turkey advanced into Syria has prompted widespread criticism, even from some of his staunchest defenders in Congress. The White House has since sought to limit the damage by imposing sanctions on Turkish officials and dispatching Pence, along with U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, to the region to push for an immediate cease-fire.Erdogan said Wednesday that Ankara’s military operation in Syria could end after Kurdish fighters, who fought for years with the U.S. to defeat Islamic State, leave a strip of territory in northeast Syria, where they have set up an autonomous administration.Here is a rundown of major events in Turkish local time:Key DevelopmentsPence, Erdogan reach deal in AnkaraTrump faces Congressional rebuke for Syria pulloutAssad’s forces take strategic border town of KobaniRussian forces patrol areas of northeast Syria after U.S. forces leaveTrump-Erdogan call led to a lengthy quest to avoid Halkbank trialTurkey Agrees to 120-Hour Cease-Fire in Syria, Pence Says (8:40 p.m.)Pence said the U.S. and Turkey have agreed to end hostilities in Syria.Turkey would cease operations permanently once the Kurdish forces withdraw and work on detention centers in the affected areas would be coordinated with Turkey, Pence said.Once a permanent cessation of hostilities is in place, the U.S. will lift all sanctions slapped on Turkey earlier, Pence said.Pence, Erdogan Talks End after More Than Four Hours (7:55 p.m.)Talks held between Erdogan, Pence and their delegations including Secretary of State Pompeo ended after more than four hours. The American delegation is expected to hold a joint press conference at the residence of the U.S. Ambassador.Graham’s Turkey Sanctions Bill Includes Ban on Sovereign Debt (7:50 p.m.)Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is proposing a prohibition on U.S. persons from buying Turkey’s sovereign debt in response to its actions in northern Syria, according to the framework of the sanctions bill.The same version of the bill would have to pass the House and the Senate before going to Trump to be signed into law. There is strong bipartisan opposition to Turkey’s offensive, but Senate leaders haven’t committed to bringing the bill to a vote.Pence Meeting With Erdogan Lasted About 80 Minutes, Longer Than Planned (5:32 p.m.)The meeting lasted longer than planned (10-to-15 minutes) at the insistence of the Turkish side, according to a U.S. official.The two leaders are now holding an expanded bilateral meeting.Trump’s Oct. 9 Letter to Erdogan Irrelevant; Turkey Moved On: Presidential Aide (4:16 p.m.)“It was an old, leaked letter that wasn’t taken seriously at the time, especially given its lack of diplomatic finesse. And the response to that letter was the start of the operation” into Syria, Erdogan’s aide, Gulnur Aybet, told NPR in an interview. “We’ve really moved on considerably since this letter was sent. It’s absolutely irrelevant.”Pence, Erdogan Meeting Begins (3:30 p.m.)The one-on-one meeting begins at Erdogan’s office. Photos disseminated by the Turkish presidency show the two leaders looking extremely serious as they shake hands.Pence Lands in Turkey’s Capital, Ankara (1:14 p.m.)Pence arrived in Ankara, where he will pressure Erdogan to call a cease-fire in northern Syria, a demand the Turkish leader publicly rejected ahead of the visit.The hastily arranged trip came at the direction of Trump, who spoke earlier this week with Erdogan. Pompeo, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and Syria envoy James Jeffrey have all traveled to the country for high-level talks.Trump’s Letter to Erdogan Is ‘Quite Unusual,’ Kremlin Says (12:57 p.m.)Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the letter “quite unusual,” saying, “you don’t often come across such language in the correspondence of heads of state.”Vladimir Putin, who’s cemented his power-broker role in Syria since Trump opened the way to the Turkish operation, will host Erdogan in Sochi, Russia on Tuesday to discuss the crisis, following a phone conversation earlier this week.Merkel Urges End to Offensive That “Strengthens Russia’s Position” (10:48 a.m.)In a speech to lawmakers in Germany’s Bundestag, Chancellor Angela Merkel repeated her plea to Erdogan to end the military incursion into Syria, an “already devastated country.” Germany will join EU member states in halting weapons exports to Turkey.“In geopolitical terms, this massively strengthens Russia’s position in the region, together with Iran” with U.S. troops withdrawn,” Merkel said early Thursday. “The consequences are at this moment not foreseeable.”Lira Steadies Before Erdogan Meets Pence on Syria (08:27 a.m.)The Turkish lira remained near its weakest level in almost five months before Erdogan meets Pence and Pompeo in Ankara later Thursday.The lira was trading at ~5.88 per dollar.One-year dollar-lira swaps -1bps to 16.69% after jumping more than 60bps on WednesdayFive-year CDS closed above 400bps on Wednesday, nearing a one-month high touched earlier this weekPelosi Cites Trump ‘Meltdown’ as Republicans Blasts Syria Reversal (02:47 a.m.)A White House meeting between Donald Trump and congressional leaders to contain fallout from the Syria crisis broke down abruptly Wednesday, with the president hurling insults at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who accused him of having a “meltdown.”Pelosi said Trump appeared to be “shaken” after 129 Republican lawmakers backed a resolution rebuking him for withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Trump’s insults of Pelosi during a “nasty diatribe” prompted Democratic leaders to leave.Trump Warns Erdogan: Don’t Be ‘Tough Guy’ or ‘Fool’ (11:43 p.m.)Trump wrote a letter to Erdogan calling on him to “work out a good deal!” and warning him not to be a “tough guy” or “fool.”“History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way,” according to the Oct. 9 letter, reported earlier by Fox Business Network and confirmed by the White House. “It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen.”UN Security Council Expresses Concern Over IS (10:30 p.m.)The United Nations Security Council, deeply divided over Syria since civil war broke out in 2011, issued a statement Wednesday expressing “deep concern” over the risk of the dispersion of terrorists from groups including Islamic State and “over the risk of a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation.”Syrian Military Forces Enter Key Town of Kobani (8:42 p.m.)Syrian government forces entered the strategic border town of Kobani Wednesday night, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported, as part of a deal with Kurdish fighters to fend off Turkey’s offensive on the border. Syrian troops also expanded their deployment in the northeastern province of Raqqa earlier in the day, state-run Sana news agency said, showing images of troops carrying their national flag and pictures of Assad as they made their way into the area. Kobani carries a particular symbolic resonance as Kurdish forces backed by U.S. air power ended Islamic State’s hold over the town and its environs in a grueling months-long battle in 2014-2015 that was widely seen as a turning point in the war against the jihadist group.--With assistance from Nick Wadhams, Saleha Mohsin, Patrick Donahue, Selcan Hacaoglu and David Wainer.To contact the reporters on this story: Jordan Fabian in Washington at [email protected];Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara at [email protected];Firat Kozok in Ankara at [email protected] contact the editors responsible for this story: Onur Ant at [email protected];Lin Noueihed at [email protected] more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Arapaima Fish Scales are One of Nature’s Toughest Flexible Materials

17.10.2019 11:45

Arapaima gigas is a large Amazonian fish (weighing up to 150 kg) living primarily in seasonal lakes infested with ferocious piranhas. The freshwater giant has armor-like scales that can deform, but do not tear or crack, when a piranha attacks. According to a new study published in the journal Matter, these scales are one of [...]

Tags: Amazon, Iran

Netanyahu's Latest Call for Unity Government Is Quickly Rejected

17.10.2019 10:37

(Bloomberg) -- Benjamin Netanyahu’s main rival turned down the Israeli prime minister’s renewed call to set aside political differences and join a national unity governmentNetanyahu has until late next week to form a ruling coalition or risk the country’s president handing the mandate to former military chief Benny Gantz. Short of a majority in parliament, the premier’s efforts to coax Gantz’s Blue and White bloc, the largest in the legislature, into a power-sharing agreement have so far failed.“All of Israel’s citizens look around and see how the Middle East is changing for the worse in front of our eyes,” Netanyahu said Thursday in a tweet. “Those who need to know, know that the security challenges are growing, and they are not waiting for us.”The prime minister didn’t specify the threats facing Israel. But his statement follows the decision by President Donald Trump to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria as he seeks to end America’s presence in long-running Middle Eastern conflicts.The U-turn has boosted Israel’s main regional foe, Iran, which is a key supporter of the government in Damascus, and stoked speculation in Israel over the future reliability of the country’s superpower patron.Gantz quickly rejected Netanyahu’s offer.“I received a proposal today that one must refuse,’’ Gantz said in a tweet. “We will wait for the President’s mandate and begin serious negotiations for the establishment of a liberal unity government that will lead to change and restore hope to the citizens of Israel.”--With assistance from Ivan Levingston.To contact the reporter on this story: Yaacov Benmeleh in Tel Aviv at [email protected] contact the editors responsible for this story: Alaa Shahine at [email protected], Mark Williams, Paul AbelskyFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Iran-backed militias deployed snipers in Iraq protests: Sources

17.10.2019 0:39

Iran-backed militias deployed snipers on Baghdad rooftops during Iraq's deadliest anti-government protests in years, two Iraqi security officials told Reuters.


Exclusive: Iran-backed militias deployed snipers in Iraq protests - sources

17.10.2019 0:09

Iran-backed militias deployed snipers on Baghdad rooftops during the Iraq’s deadliest anti-government protests in years, two Iraqi security officials told Reuters.


Piranha fish swap old teeth for new simultaneously

16.10.2019 21:36

With the help of new technologies, a team has confirmed that piranhas lose and regrow all the teeth on one side of their face multiple times throughout their lives. How they do it may help explain why the fish go to such efforts to replace their teeth.

Tags: Teeth, Iran

US targeted Iran in secret cyber operation

16.10.2019 17:00

October 17, 2019 5:00 AM
WASHINGTON • The US carried out a secret cyber operation against Iran in the wake of the Sept 14 attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities, which Washington and Riyadh blame on Teheran, two US officials have told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.


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